One of the biggest issues facing the occasional boat user is that of stale petrol in his outboard motor. The petrol that we buy from the filling station today is quite poor quality compared with a decade or so ago.
Oil companies are under more and more pressure to extract more fuel from every barrel of crude, which is leading to a poorer quality fuel. This modern petrol is made up of more than 100 chemicals, roughly a third of which are Aromatic Hydracarbons (solvents). It is these solvents that give petrol its signature 'heady' smell, but these chemicals are also responsible for the rapid degradation of the petrol. At times this fuel can degrade to an unacceptable level in as little as a month, after which time the ability to start an engine will be compromised and power will drop when started. The stale fuel also starts to slowly dissolve soft materials such as rubber fuel hoses, plastic fuel tanks and aluminium carburetor parts.
The safe storage life of 'pump'petrol is now only around one month, although tha actual rate of degradation depend on heat, light and humidity. Storage of cans in a cool, dark and dry cabinet will extend the life of petrol, whereas the fuel in the auxiliary motor basking in the sun and dripping in the rain or dew, will degrade the very fastest.
Oil companies are also now having to add a percentage of ethanol (bio fuel from a renewable source) to petrol to make it go further, preserving underground oil reserves for a few more years, a noble cause.
However, the ethanol has an affinity to water and absorbs its own volume in water, with which it mixes and forms a watery mess in the bottom of the tank which eventually turns to a gel in a process known as 'phase separation'
Many leisure boaters use their craft much less often than they wish they could. Pressures on time from other commitments leave much less free time than we thought we would have when we first bought our boats, leaving us very little time to use them. Then of course, when we do get the time we find the weather or tides against us.
The result is that our craft sit being unused for lengthy periods, and of course the fuel tanks often tend to be quite large, so we dont empty therm out between use. And of course , these days we tend not to turn the fuel off and let the engine run dry like we used to with the old seagull, so fuel remains in the carburettor, doing what fuel does best, going stale.
So when we do at last get a chance to use our beloved craft we find the engine will not start, or if it does then it runs like a bag of proverbial compost. Large bills from the marine engineer ensue.
I am no exception, and my poor old Bonwitco with her 25hp Mercury 4 stroke, spends many months on end sat in the garage ready for use, but the exception is that nowadays I know that she will always start. In the 2014 season I last used her in July, but always hoped for another outing before the end of the year, which never came. I did not even get round to properly 'putting her to bed' for the winter, so in the spring of 2015 out she came to prepare her for the summer season. The steering was semi siezed and needed a little attention, but the outboard fired up instantly, and cleanly on last seasons fuel, as did the 2.5 hp Suzuki auxilliary which has had the same fuel in the tank for 4years as this little motor is a spare and has never been needed.
The reason for this incredible performance is that I now run her totally on Aspen Alkylate Fuel. This is a chemically pure form of petrol made from the surplus gases at the refinery, and contains no Ethanol or other solvents.
The result is that Aspen can sit in the can, or in the outboard for years with no detriment to the carburetor, fuel lines or pump diaphragms, ensuring a perfect start every time, even after many months of storage. My main Mercury and spare Suzuki 2.5hp each started on the first crank and furthermore, they started cleanly and sweetly with none of the coughing and wheezing, or the clouds of smelly exhaust that we are all used to with 'pump' petrol that has been around for more than a month or so.
The engine oil will stay perfectly clean when using Aspen as it does not have to clean up the filthy products of combustion associated with 'pump' fuel, and the spark plug too, will remain virtually untarnished. The upper cylinder of a new engine run on Aspen from new will look just like new if dismantled after several years of use, whereas one run on 'pump' will have heavy carbon deposits. These benefits alone will to some extend counter the extra cost incurred by the use of Aspen fuel.
Even though Aspen is some 2.5 times the cost of 'pump' its a cost I am more than with to ensure the reliability of my engines, but to be fair I do not use my boat anywhere as much as should like to, but I think there are many, many boat owners just like me who use their beloved craft much less than they would like to.
Aspen alkylate fuel is still a very unknown product. I came across it in 2011 through my garden machinery business. We were suffering so many fuel related issues on both 4 stroke and 2 stroke engines that something needed to be done. In fact I believe that around 85% of small engine problems are related to the ageing and storage of 'pump' petrol. Since adopting Aspen as our preferred fuel and encouraging our customers to use it, we now suffer virtually no fuel related issues on the machines run on Aspen
Aspen comes in two forms, Aspen 4 (blue cans) for fourstroke engines, and Aspen 2 FRT for two strokes. The Aspen 2 is premixed with high grade 2 stroke oil at 2%.
Both Aspen fuels can be purchased over the counter at our East Devon shop, or can be delivered to your home by carrier.
See our Aspen Pages for more information or to find prices and delivery options. Press the buttons below.